A question I'm asked a lot and I'm sure is on a few of my readers minds, is my child too young to start working out. The answer is simple ... but complicated at the same time, no your child is not too young to start working out, however it's how they workout and how they perceive the activity. You also need to ask yourself, why is it that you feel your child needs an increase in physical activity.
Most children receive plenty of physical activity (or should) while at school and after school with friends and family. I don't know if you've noticed but most children even take every day activities such as getting on the bus or shopping as an excuse to run, jump, climb, and pretend to be ninjas! Just think about how much a small child runs around our big, big adult sized world all day long. Imagine having to walk or run double/triple the distance to work every single day, or having to actually climb up on to the couch and back down again multiple times per day! I'm sure if this were the case, most adults would be in much better "functional" shape out of sheer necessity. Furthermore, children have excellent flexibility and mobility due to their soft, young, developing joints ... so there's really almost no need to attempt to improve upon that area of your child's health. If you want to see an example on this, just watch a small child next time they want to pick something up that they see on the ground. I can almost guarantee that they will perform a perfect full range squat (ass to heels) and be able to not only balance there, but stand right back up without batting an eye lash. This is something most 20 year old's have trouble with!
So why would you want to introduce your child to a fitness program? Simple, they won't always be a child. That's right, we all (even you) once started out as that small child who ran around, climbed, jumped, rolled, and bent all day long. However, over time for one reason or another most people stop moving and lose all that mobility, flexibility, energy, and strength! But this doesn't have to be the case with your child. By introducing your child to a health and fitness program at a young age you can actually help them sustain this level of fitness forever. Here are my tips to help you and your child not only form a bond, but stay in excellent shape.
1. Make the workouts appear FUN ... make them play time!
If something is not fun, we wont want to do it ... period! So when you're working out with your child please don't think of it as a "workout". Make it fun by turning the workout into a game, contest, or sport. Not only will this appeal more to your child, but it will also instill a healthy sense of competition.
2. Keep the workouts short and sweet.
It can be tough to keep children occupied and interested for a long period of time, so keep the activity short and sweet. Kids love to run, so why not run short sets of sprints at the park with the dog or set up a makeshift obstacle course for them to run through 3 times with out rest against mom or dad?
3. Body Weight is best!
Body weight exercises are safe and can be done, anywhere, any time, by anyone ... even kids! Most martial arts experts and gymnasts begin their training at a very young age using body weight techniques only. I can't think of better examples than those to prove how body weight training is sustainable for your entire life, and will help you maintain the supple joints of childhood while building tremendous strength well into adulthood. It's all a matter of progressing the exercises safely, something I cover extensively in my Body Weight Training Specialist Certifications as well as my book "The Body Weight Solution".
4. Get outside
Most kids (and adults) spend too much time indoors with school, home work, video games, T.V., and the internet. Getting them outside and back into our natural environment will help set a feeling of freedom and prime them for some physical activity. Try heading to the park, take them to a local jungle gym and let them play or workout with you. You would be amazed at what you can do on a simple jungle gym!
5. Get them into some sort of physical activity or sport.
When I was young all I wanted to do was learn martial arts. I was lucky enough that my family found a great school and I was able to become a student. Some children might like gymnastics, dance, hockey, football, soccer, or just working out ... it doesn't matter as long as it's physical and gets them moving!
... So there you have it, those are just 5 tips to help you and your child bond together and improve their future health through fitness. Remember to keep it fun and exciting for them, they'll be getting an excellent workout whether they know it or not!
* Just a reminder to all that the next Jungle Fit "Body Weight Specialist Certification" will be held in Kingston ON, Canada at the Jungle Fit studio October 22nd, 2011. I hope to see you all there, you can register at www.Jungle-Fit.com